Puppy Vaccine Schedule: A Complete Owner’s Guide

13 min read
13 min read

Updated - May 18th, 2023

Bringing a new puppy into your world is an exciting experience, and following a puppy vaccine schedule is a crucial first step.

But what vaccines should your puppy get? And at what age? We’re covering everything you need to know and providing a handy puppy vaccine schedule for you to follow.

Key Points

  • A puppy’s vaccination schedule begins at six weeks, with booster shots administered every two to four weeks until around four months old.
  • Core vaccines the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) recommended include canine distemper virus, adenovirus-2, parvovirus, parainfluenza virus, and rabies.
  • Non-core vaccines, which may be recommended based on lifestyle, location, or existing health conditions, include Bordetella bronchiseptica, Leptospira, Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease), canine influenza virus, and Crotalus atrox (rattlesnake poisoning).

Your days soon become filled with walks, fetch, cuddles, and boundless puppy energy.

Gazing into those irresistible puppy eyes, you’re determined to provide the best life for your furry friend. One vital aspect of those first few months is scheduling wellness check-ups with your vet. During these visits, your pup will receive essential vaccinations to prevent disease.

How do puppy vaccines work?

Vaccines give puppies the defense they need to fight disease-causing microorganisms. These vaccines contain antigens that mimic disease-causing microorganisms. The antigens activate your pup’s immune system’s response to fight off disease without making them sick. This builds up their defense against future exposure to these pathogens. Like kittens and humans, puppies need several vaccinations to protect them against contagious diseases.

“As a new pet parent, providing appropriate and complete vaccinations for your new puppy is highly important. Vaccines play a crucial role in your puppy’s early health care. And their significance cannot be overstated. Through vaccination, your pet’s vet does not only shields your pup from potentially deadly diseases. The vet also protects other animals and people in the same household.”

– Charles A Hurty, DVM Grove Veterinary Clinic

Your puppy’s vaccination schedule begins at six weeks of age, with booster shots administered every two to four weeks until around four months of age. It’s crucial to follow this timeline because puppies initially receive protective antibodies through their mother’s milk. However, this immunity wanes over time. Therefore, vaccinations must begin before this protection dwindles.

Ultimately, a solid first-year vaccination schedule sets the stage for lifelong immunity against diseases. So, give your pup a good start in life with their first shots and watch them thrive!

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) breaks down dog vaccination recommendations into two categories: core vaccines and non-core vaccines. We’ll walk you through the details of each type and which are needed for puppies.

Core vaccines

Core vaccines are recommended for all dogs. These vaccines are vital to all puppies based on the risk of exposure, transmissibility to humans, and severity of the disease.

According to the AAHA’s guidelines, core vaccinations for puppies include:

Canine distemper virus

Keeping to a proper vaccine schedule is crucial to protect your furry friend against the canine distemper virus. This highly contagious virus spreads through contact with infected dogs. It is also responsible for causing the often fatal disease known as distemper.

Distemper symptoms may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Coughing
  • Eye and nose discharge
  • Seizures

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for this disease. As a result, preventing this disease through vaccination is a must. So, ensure your puppy’s vaccine schedule includes protection against the canine distemper virus.


The Adenovirus-2 vaccine defends against two serotypes: CAV-1 and CAV-2. While CAV-2 causes the infamous kennel cough, CAV-1 causes hepatitis. Veterinarians prioritize guarding your dog against the hepatitis virus caused by CAV-1.

This viral disease inflames the liver and spreads through urine and feces. It also spreads through eyed and nose discharge from infected animals.

Watch out for symptoms like:

  • Upper respiratory issues
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Collapse

Early vaccination is crucial as your puppy’s maternal antibodies start to fade between 5-7 weeks of age.


Canine parvovirus, also called “parvo,” is another contagious viral disease. This disease affects the gastrointestinal system and heart muscle. Parvo spreads through the feces of an infected dog, which is why cleaning up after your dog is so important.

Also, the virus loves to prey on puppies, especially unvaccinated ones under one year of age. Watch out for symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. Sadly, there is no cure for canine parvovirus. However, aggressive treatment with hospitalization can still give your pups the best shot at recovery.

Parainfluenza virus

Along with adenovirus, the parainfluenza virus causes kennel cough. As the name suggests, coughing is the most common symptom of the disease, but other signs can include:

  • Runny eyes
  • Nose
  • Loss of appetite
  • Wheezing

Signs will be more severe when co-infection with other respiratory pathogens occurs. 

This virus thrives in places bustling with our furry pals like kennels or dog parks. Sadly, there is no specific cure for kennel cough. However, rest and supportive care may help resolve most infections in a few weeks. To prevent this disease, make sure your pup’s vaccinations are up-to-date before hitting the dog park! 

Tip: The four antigens listed above are often included in one multivalent vaccine. At the veterinary hospital, these all-in-one vaccine injections may be called any of the following by your vet:

  • Parvo vaccine
  • DAPP
  • DHPP
  • Distemper vaccine

In other cases, your vet may give parainfluenza with the Bordetella vaccine.


Rabies is a deadly viral disease that doesn’t play around. This disease is transmitted through the bites of infected mammals. Once inside your dog’s body, the rabies virus attacks the nervous system. You may notice symptoms like:

  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Drooling
  • Paralysis
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Aggression

While there is no treatment for rabies, it is easily preventable with a vaccination. In fact, they’re so essential that most state laws require rabies vaccines.

Non-core vaccines

Non-core vaccines are not recommended for all dogs. These are vaccines your veterinarian will recommend based on factors like your puppy’s lifestyle, location, or existing health conditions. For example, if you plan on taking your puppy along on camping or hiking trips, your vet may recommend the Lyme vaccine; or if you live in rattlesnake country, your vet may recommend the Crotalus atrox vaccine to prevent rattlesnake poisoning.

Tip: Bear in mind, if you plan on boarding your puppy or sending them to daycare, some facilities may require certain non-core vaccines.

Non-core vaccinations for puppies include:

Bordetella bronchiseptica

Bordetella bronchiseptica is the most common bacteria behind kennel cough in dogs.

If your dog often rubs noses with other pups – at daycare, dog parks, or training classes – this may be the vaccine for them. Veterinarians can administer the vaccine alone or pair it with the parainfluenza vaccine for extra protection.


Leptospira is a bacterium that causes leptospirosis. This disease affects the liver and kidneys of dogs. Leptospirosis is often spread through contaminated water, but is more common in wooded areas or neighborhoods with rodents and raccoons.

Symptoms range based on the severity of the disease. However, watch out for:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Jaundice
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive drinking

Luckily, there are antibiotics available to treat this bacterial infection and are most effective when started early.

If your dog enjoys splashing around in lakes and rivers or sniffing about farms, the leptospirosis vaccine is probably a good idea. This vaccine helps protect your pup from risks during their outdoor escapades. Some hospitals may actually consider this vaccine a core vaccine in their vaccination protocol.

Borrelia burgdorferi

Borrelia burgdorferi is the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. Lyme disease is transmitted through a tick bite, most commonly the deer tick.

Lyme disease symptoms in dogs can be harder to detect than in humans, but they typically include:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Refusal to eat
  • Limping

To treat Lyme disease, your vet will prescribe antibiotics. However, advanced therapy is needed for dogs that develop a form of kidney disease called Lyme nephritis.

Your vet may recommend a Lyme disease vaccine if you and your furry friend live in tick hotspots like the Midwest or Eastern U.S. However, this does not mean that you should opt out of a monthly tick preventative! Your pup will need both to have the strongest defense against ticks.

Canine influenza virus (H3N8 and H3N2)

Dog flu or canine influenza is a respiratory disease caused by the influenza A virus. It spreads through the air, contaminated objects, or direct contact. Symptoms include coughing, nasal discharge, fever, lethargy, and reduced appetite. Sound familiar? Yes, like humans, dogs usually recover within a few weeks with plenty of fluids and rest. To keep your pup even safer, two forms of the dog flu vaccine are available: H3N8 and H3N2.

According to the AAHA guidelines, dogs at risk of contracting canine influenza should receive both vaccines. And what are the risk factors? Think frequenting parks, daycare facilities, groomers, and other social hotspots. So, make sure you include dog flu vaccination in your puppy vaccine schedule to keep your furry friend safe while they socialize!

Crotalus Atrox

If you live in rattlesnake territory, and your pup loves to roam the great outdoors, you may want to consider the Crotalus atrox vaccine to protect your dog against rattlesnake poisoning. Veterinarians administering the vaccine should consult current recommendations that provide evidence of clinical efficacy.

If your dog gets bitten by a rattlesnake, the toxin can cause fatal symptoms. Look out for:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Panting
  • Restlessness
  • Collapse
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Swelling

Now, this vaccine doesn’t offer complete immunity from rattlesnake poisoning, but it can decrease the severity of clinical signs. So even if your dog is vaccinated, seek emergency veterinary care if a rattlesnake bites your dog.

Puppy vaccination schedule

Now that you know both core and non-core vaccines, here’s how they all might fit into a puppy vaccine schedule. Please note that you should always consult with your veterinarian for recommendations as protocols may change as more research becomes available.

At six to eight weeks:

  • DHPP combination vaccine. This core vaccine can be given as early as six weeks. Booster shots are given at intervals of two to four weeks until your puppy is around 16 weeks of age. After the final shot in the series, your dog should receive another vaccine one year later, and then after that, every three years.
  • Bordetella vaccine. For this non-core vaccine on its own (without the parainfluenza combination vaccine), your puppy will typically receive a vaccine at eight weeks of age. There is significant variation in the vaccination protocol depending on the route of administration, age, and lifestyle of your pet. 
  • Leptospirosis vaccine. Your pup can take this non-core vaccine as early as eight weeks of age, with a second dose 3 weeks later.  A booster is administered annually.
  • Lyme disease vaccine. Just like the Leptospirosis vaccine, your puppy can receive the Lyme disease vaccine as early as eight weeks of age, with a second dose 3 weeks later.  A booster is administered yearly.
  • Canine flu vaccine. Puppies can receive the canine flu vaccine as early as six to eight weeks. Two shots are required, at an interval of two to four weeks. Yearly boosters are recommended.

At 12 to 16 weeks:

  • Rabies vaccine. Typically, puppies get their first rabies shot at around 12 weeks old, but some states wait until they’re closer to 16 weeks. When your pup hits the one-year mark, it’s time for their checkup. Then you can talk to your veterinarian about whether they’ll need the one or three-year labeling. This is also when they’ll get their final DHPP booster.

Once your dog has finished their initial round of puppy shots, they’ll need booster shots every one to three years. But this depends on the type of vaccine. For non-core vaccines, like Bordetella or canine flu, your dog’s need for vaccination may change, which is often based on their lifestyle and risk factors.

When you bring your pup to the vet, discuss their policies on immunizations, testing, deworming, heartworm prevention, and spaying or neutering. This conversation can help you create a customized plan for your new puppys’s needs.

Risks of vaccines for puppies

As with all medical procedures, there are some risks associated with puppy vaccinations, but they’re extremely minor compared to the benefits of preventing illness and the transmission of disease.

“New and improved technology has not only delivered vaccines that are more effective at protecting our beloved companions. But we also have access to extremely safe immunization products.  I like to say that the most rewarding side effect of puppy vaccination is a healthy adult dog.”

– Charles A Hurty, DVM Grove Veterinary Clinic

Most puppies sail through their vaccinations with no issues. But it’s not uncommon for some to experience mild side effects. These side effects can include loss of appetite, localized swelling, or malaise. Don’t worry; these symptoms usually disappear quickly after the initial vaccination.

However, if your pup experiences more severe symptoms, like vomiting, hives, or a swollen face, call your vet. They can provide the care needed to get your pup feeling better in no time.

How much do puppy vaccines cost?

Vaccines are just one of the expenses you’ll be paying for within your puppy’s first year of life, and beyond. To help you budget your dog care costs, you can talk with your veterinarian ahead of time.

Overall, the cost of puppy vaccines can vary based on factors. These include your location, veterinarian practice, vaccine type, and so on. A single vaccine may range in price from $15 to $50 for your initial round of puppy shots. But you may receive a single price for all required vaccines. Some veterinarians may even bundle in the cost of an examination, deworming, or other “puppy firsts”.

Planning for a healthy future

We all want the best for our canine companions. And ensuring they get the right puppy vaccines is one of the most important steps to keep your dog healthy.

Once your pup has had their initial vaccinations, you need to keep their shots up-to-date and schedule regular check-ups with the vet. Plus, your vet can help you create a customized plan for your pup’s health and wellness. That includes choosing the best food, figuring out how to keep them active, and more.

Did you know? Pumpkin’s wellness package – Preventive Essentials – can give you a 100% refund on any four puppy vaccines and their annual wellness exam in year 1? This optional, non-insurance benefit is just another way to keep your pup happy and healthy.


What is a typical puppy vaccine schedule?

A typical puppy vaccine schedule usually starts at 6-8 weeks of age and includes the following vaccines:

  • DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus) given every 3-4 weeks until the puppy is 16-20 weeks old.
  • Rabies vaccine at 16 weeks or older.
  • Bordetella (Kennel Cough) every six months.
  • Lyme vaccine or other non-core vaccines annually.

It’s important to consult your veterinarian to determine the best vaccine schedule for your puppy. Some may require additional vaccines based on their lifestyle and exposure risks.

When should I deworm my puppy?

It’s recommended to deworm your puppy at 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks of age, then every 3 months until they are 6 months old. After that, deworming can be done annually or as advised by your veterinarian.

How many shots does a puppy need for parvo?

A puppy typically needs a series of three to four parvo vaccinations, given at approximately 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age, followed by a booster shot annually. However, it’s best to consult with your veterinarian to determine the best schedule for your puppy.

What days should a puppy get its first vaccination?

A puppy should receive its first vaccination when it is 6 to 8 weeks old. The exact timing of the first vaccination and subsequent boosters will depend on the specific vaccine protocol recommended by your veterinarian.


Pumpkin Pet Insurance policies do not cover pre-existing conditions. Waiting periods, annual deductible, co-insurance, benefit limits and exclusions may apply. For full terms, visit pumpkin.care/insurancepolicy. Products, discounts, and rates may vary and are subject to change. Pumpkin Insurance Services Inc. (Pumpkin) (NPN#19084749) is a licensed insurance agency, not an insurer. Insurance is underwritten by United States Fire Insurance Company (NAIC #21113. Morristown, NJ), a Crum & Forster Company and produced by Pumpkin. Pumpkin receives compensation based on the premiums for the insurance policies it sells. For more details visit pumpkin.care/underwriting-information and https://www.pumpkin.care/insurance-licenses Preventive Essentials is not an insurance policy, and is not available in all states. It is offered as an optional add-on non-insurance benefit. Pumpkin is responsible for the product and administration. For full terms, visit http://pumpkin.care/customeragreement

Randa Kriss

Randa Kriss

Writer, Proud Dog & Cat Mom
Randa is a writer & former assoc. digital content editor at the American Kennel Club. She's also mom to 1 Corgi & 2 orange cats.
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